Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson will be among the six people the company plans to launch from Spaceport America to the edge of space on July 11. 

Virgin announced Thursday that Branson will take part in "the private astronaut experience" as one of four mission specialists who will ride in the cabin for the test flight from Truth or Consequences. 

Branson originally planned to fly aboard the VSS Unity's third trip to the upper atmosphere, but then news outlets reported that rival Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, would take a July 20 suborbital flight on his New Shepard spacecraft. It was to be Blue Origin's first suborbital flight with a full crew. 

Rumors quickly circulated that Branson would seek to one-up Bezos in what some are calling a space race, although in reality their flights stop short of official space boundary. 

If all goes as planned, Branson will have bragging rights as the first prominent billionaire to zoom 50 miles above Earth. 

This would be Virgin's second rocket-powered test flight from the spaceport in the company's quest to establish space tourism.

Virgin has sold 600 tickets priced from $200,000 to $250,000 to wealthy adventurers who want to briefly experience weightlessness and super high-altitude views before gliding back to Earth. 

After three false starts, which included an aborted flight, the company completed its first successful launch from the spaceport in late May. 

Virgin hailed it as New Mexico's first human spaceflight. 

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